Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Pickworth Great Wood - 26/07/2008

Pickworth Great Wood is one of, if not the, best mothing sites in VC55. It is a mainly broad-leaved woodland including some very ancient stands. It is managed by the Forestry Commission, and over the last couple of years has undergone some fairly extensive thinning/coppicing. The wood is in the north-east of Rutland on the border with Lincolnshire. Immediately adjacent to the wood is Clipsham Quarry, which is still operational. This is itself an excellent site and the oldest part of the quarry cuts into the edge of the most ancient part of the wood - accessing this on a regular basis would no doubt provide some extremely interesting species. The following map shows a few key points: dark blue dot - Clipsham Quarry yellow dot - shooting tower at the end of the main ride through Pickworth Great Wood red dot - turning circle along the main ride, roughly 200M up from the tower pale blue dot - locked gate at the entrance to the main ride green dot - Holwell Wood, Lincolnshire Saturday 26th July looked to be just about perfect for mothing, provided the weather held. It could either be one of the best nights in recent years or a thundery deluge. I decided to err on the optimistic side and pack all of my gear to set up for an all-nighter. I ran 3 x 125W MV traps spaced evenly from the shooting tower to c25M short of the turning circle, and the 80W actinic and another 125W MV c50M & 100M further along the main ride from the turning circle. I also ran a 125W MV light over a sheet on the turning circle from 22:00 - 00:30. From the early activity at the sheet, it was clearly going to be a huge list. The sheet and tripod were coated in moths and other insects. It was a bit catch-22 as there were so many it was difficult to keep track of numbers and pick out new species. One or two moths on the tripod. A few more on the legs. Try sticking your head in this lot to identify something on the tripod or sheet! Moths flying into ears is a well known and unpleasant experience that I don't want to have. By half past midnight I was knackered! The traps were also doing very well and having topped up the gennie I decided to knock off the tripod light and leave the traps whilst I grabbed a few hours sleep. I woke up with a start just before 5am and it was already easily light enough to start gathering up the traps. The 3 x 125W MV traps looking down to the shooting tower. The 80W actinic and other 125W MV trap. All of the traps were coated in moths on the outside, leading to great expectation of a mammoth emptying session. Plenty of moths to count before turning off the lights and gathering the traps up. More moths clinging to the light arrays. How many Coronets!? Once all the traps were blocked off and gathered at the turning circle, and I'd grabbed a bit of breakfast, I started the task of emptying and recording. Thankfully I use a digital voice recorder otherwise this would be a stupidly long task. It took a good two and half hours as it was! Every trap had egg trays packed like this! So, the total catch for the five traps and the part-time sheet: 3192 of 233 species 132 macro species 101 micro species Pro-rata this must rate as one of the best lists ever for VC55, and overall I think it must be easily in the top five. Certainly there aren't many lists with 100+ macros and micros. The main highlight was a single Ancylis laetana, albeit a worn individual. This was recorded as a first for VC55 by Graham Finch only a few weeks ago, so really good to pick up another individual. It was more on the deceased side of moribund by the time I photographed it though. Ancylis laetana See Graham's photo of a smart fresh individual for comparison. Other highlights included: Morophaga choragella 1 Ypsolopha nemorella 3 Schreckensteinia festaliella 1 Agonopterix angelicella 6 Ethmia dodecea 1 Syncopacma larseniella 1 Acompsia cinerella 4 Psoricoptera gibbosella 1 Mompha lacteella 1 Choristoneura hebenstreitella 2 Evergestis pallidata 2 Pine Hawk-moth (Hyloicus pinastri) 1 Maple Prominent (Ptilodon cucullina) 1 Chocolate-tip (Clostera curtula) 2 Black Arches (Lymantria monacha) 59* Four-dotted Footman (Cybosia mesomella) 2 Coronet (Craniophora ligustri) 66* Mere Wainscot (Chortodes fluxa) 40 Ear Moth (Amphipoea oculea) 1 Species above 50 individuals (aside from *) were: Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 429 Buff Footman (Eilema depressa) 137 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 127 Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) 121 Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis) 94 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 79 Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola) 74 Small Fan-footed Wave (Idaea biselata) 69 July Highflyer (Hydriomena furcata) 58 Buff Arches (Habrosyne pyritoides) 57 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe) 53 All in all a great session and a superb list. The full results are posted on the VC55 Moth Group for subscribers. A few shots for interest - click for big on all. Black Arches - a VC55 scarcity that is a PGW speciality. Ear Moth - not one I'd expect at PGW, not sure if recorded there previously. Mere Wainscot - another PGW speciality.   Morophga choragella - only two previous records I think. Ypsolopha nemorella - one of the scarcer Ypsolopha sp. in VC55 Epinotia solandriana Eudemis profundana - highly variable Chocolate-tip - small second-brood individuals Scalloped Hook-tip Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

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